WHEN ideology triumphs, it is invisible. When an idea becomes so widespread, and so often unconsciously repeated as if true, it vanishes into the background. It has succeeded in becoming part of the landscape of life, as if it had always been there. In this way points of ideology become like chairs, or trees. No one would argue with them, as they are mere facts.
If you would like to experiment with this concept, try opening a conversation about a ‘normal family’. It will land like a brick in a pond. The reality is that there is a war on the family, and that its enemies are winning.
What kind of person declares war on the family? People such as Wilhelm Reich described the family as ‘authoritarian’ in his Mass Psychology of Fascism. He saw a strong link between the order of the traditional family and that of society, which he designated as a deep social evil. He believed, like his mentor Freud, that people were motivated chiefly by carnal frustration and satisfaction. To both men the family is an impediment to the total self-indulgence demanded by their philosophy, and the root of personal and societal illness.
Later, Theodor Adorno of the Frankfurt School would develop the idea of the toxicity of the family. In his book The Authoritarian Personality, he refines Reich’s ideas to a kind of manifesto. He lists many aspects of the wickedness of the traditional Christian family. He says that the family forms the religious and ideological view of the children. This is bad, as it is not Marxism.
By page 155 Adorno has hit the bullseye. He identifies the family man as the object of conservative political messaging, embodying family values which precipitate political campaigning on ‘qualities of personal character and moral standing’.
The rot at the centre of society is found, according to Adorno, in God-fearing fathers of good moral character. The project to destroy the family naturally turned its fire upon the father, before coming for mother. ‘Motherhood’ today is a different kind of invisible. It is simply not mentioned because it is seen as inherently oppressive, rather like ‘breastfeeding’ or ‘woman’.
The separation of womanhood from motherhood is the subtraction of the female from feminism. There is nothing more female than giving birth and raising children. To sever this connection is to open the door of the ladies’ changing rooms to men.
Simply put, in destroying motherhood and demonising childrearing, feminism has defeminised women. To be a feminist is to celebrate the murder of your own offspring, and to welcome your replacement by men got up as a parody of you. This is a blunt description of two facts which sound completely deranged when stated plainly.
All these progressive beliefs sound mad in plain English. That is why they are always garlanded in clever-sounding jargon. This jargon has its own geneaology, popularised by the early rock stars of resentment such as R D Laing. This man’s venomous attacks on family life, inspired by the work of Adorno, Reich and Freud, resolved into a foundational principle of his anti-psychiatry. He was a successful early example of a now common type, presenting his embittered iconoclasm as the mark of genius.
This is argument by tantrum. To scream as if incapable of speaking is often a good career move these days, and it is to people like R D Laing that we owe the template for this kind of success. Such people present their own instability as if it settled the matter, as if to say: ‘I am a mess, a wreck, and it is this wicked society and its horrid institutions which have made me so. Checkmate.’
Laing was, unsurprisingly, a terrible father.
It seems incredible that these ideas could last five minutes in conversation. It is. They have not been established by conversation, but by weaponised public meltdowns. That this method is the means by which these ideas are defended and promoted is as bonkers as the ideas themselves, but nonetheless true. If you attempt to even mention unborn life and its destruction you could very well be met with shouting.
What is more, the people doing the shouting consider themselves entitled do so simply because your disagreement is so upsetting to them. They have a right to shout, besides, because theirs is the reasonable point of view and not yours. This is how reasonable people announce themselves these days. They howl in your face, call for your head, try to ruin your life if you come to their attention – for the crime of retaining some family values.
In place of good manners, moral formation and the pluralist tolerance of differing points of view there is this display of emotional incontinence that is its own argument. It comes down to the self in the end, which all we have left when we have abandoned the family. A self very much like a spoilt child, which is what men and women so easily become when they refuse to have children.